Thursday, May 5, 2016

Teach us, Augustana!

The Rev. Fr. Gaven Mize, pastor of Augustana Lutheran Church in Hickory, NC, lecturing in a live video streaming series on worship: "Teach us, Augustana!" (An Introduction into Catechetical Aesthetics in God's House).

This is outstanding stuff!

Note the dates:

(all classes streamed live on Facebook, 6:30 pm EST).  Look for the link on Pastor Mize's Facebook timeline.

May 3 (this video below) - Salvation History and the Liturgical Line
May 17 - With Angels and Archangels/How the Feast is Prepared
May 31 - What in the World is Happening Here?  Liturgy and Architecture Working Together

Note: Augustana has a YouTube channel that you can subscribe to.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Gottesdienst Conference on AC XIV draws closer...

We are making final preparations for our conference on May 17th. Please see the post below and get your registrations in. Our hosts in Hamel, IL (40 minutes north of St. Louis) are very gracious, but the conference space can only hold so many - so don't delay in reserving your spot. And remember: 2016 LCMS Convention delegates will have the registration fees waived.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Gottesdienst St. Louis

Coming up this May, in anticipation of the 2016 LCMS Synodical Convention

Gottesdienst St. Louis

A one-day conference –

Removing the Asterisk:
Restoring an Unconditional Subscription to AC XIV in the LCMS 


Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, MDiv, LLD, DD, LCMS President
Rev. Heath R. Curtis, MA, MDiv, Gottesdienst Online Editor and LCMS Coordinator for Stewardship
Rev. D. Richard Stuckwisch, MDiv, PhD, Gottesdienst Online Editor
Rev. David H. Petersen, MDiv, STM, Gottesdienst Departmental Editor
Rev. Jason M. Braaten, MDiv, Gottesdienst Online Editor and Development Officer
Rev. Burnell F. Eckardt Jr., MDiv, STM, PhD, Gottesdienst Editor-in-chief
Rev. Benjamin T. Ball, MDiv, Pastor loci at St. PaulTuesday, May 17th                 

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

St. Paul Lutheran Church (Hamel)
6969 W. Frontage Rd.
Worden, IL 62097                  (about a half-hour drive up I-55 from the city)


8:30–9:00 am  Registration/coffee, donuts/
Holy Absolution available
9:00 am  Matins
9:40 am  Welcome
9:45–10:30 am
“How AC XIV Came to Be, and What Has Become of It in the LCMS”
Pr. Braaten
10:45 am  Divine Service
12:00 pm  Lunch

      Remarks from the Synodical President
            Pr. Harrison

1:20–2:05 pm
“In Favor of the Synod Task Force’s Recommendations to the Convention for July”
Pr. Curtis
2:05  Break
2:15–3:00 pm
“The Christological Character of the Ministry”
         Pr. Eckardt
3:00 pm  Break
3:10–3:45 pm
Panel Discussion: Quo vadis?: Our Challenge
          The Gottesdienst editors
4:15 pm  Vespers
5:00 pm  Gem├╝tlichkeit

Lodging on your own.  Recommended: The Innkeeper Motel. 401 E. State St., Hamel, IL 62046. (618) 633-2111.

Registration: $25.  BUT FREE FOR SYNODICAL DELEGATES. (Payable to Gottesdienst. Mail us this form or email it to us with “Gottesdienst” in the subject line).  You may pay the registration fee in advance or when you arrive. 

Registration form (if by email, please provide all this information):

Title: ______      Name:  _________________________
Parish: _______________________________
Email: _____________________________
City:________________  State:______ZIP:_______
Will you be staying for the Gem├╝tlichkeit? Yes__No__
For planning purposes, please register by May 10th.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

On repentance and faith

An interLutheran/interWebs debate continues to rage on the topic of the antinomianism, or Law and Gospel, or Repentance and Faith, or the Third Use, or...whatever you want to call it. As with most debates in our Instant/Lite Culture, there is often more heat than light generated.

For example, how would you answer this question: "You don't even have to be sorry for your sins, you don't have to confess them, you don't have to do anything is that really what we are talking about with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?"

Precision of language is very important in any theological debate. What is sin? What is repentance? What is faith?

I submit that even most Lutheran pastors these days have an inadequate exposure to and memory of Lutheran theological terms. Ad fontes, fratres. Here is a standard Lutheran way of talking about repentance and faith from John Gerhard. It is from section 107 of his Theological Commonplaces volume On Justification. I'm currently editing the volume for CPH, and it's due for publication in 2018.

The article on the forgiveness of sins must be believed according to the interpretation of Scripture. But this shows that sins are forgiven to no one specifically unless he repents sincerely and embraces Christ in true faith. Therefore this precedes in the Creed: “I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, etc., suffered and died,” etc. But now, people who sin willingly do not repent sincerely nor do they embrace Christ in true faith. They should not promise themselves remission of sins. Therefore they should be called not heretics but unbelievers and wicked persons.. For a heretic is a person who does not believe what he should believe, but someone who sins willingly should not believe that his sins are forgiven him so long as he is and remains the sort of person he is.

Now, what does it mean to "sin willingly?" Gerhard is talking about mortal sin as opposed to venial sin. Faith cannot exist with willful, mortal sin. Faith does not subsist without repentance.

If this way of speaking sounds odd to you, I would submit that it is because in our day and age we settle for slogans and not good, historic, careful, Lutheran theology.

Here is a sure way to get yourself on the right track in regard to this entire set of topics regarding Law and Gospel, Repentance and Faith: Chemnitz' Enchiridion. Clergy or lay, this is a must read, and an easy read, from the chief author of the Formula of Concord.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

An Easter Sermon

Sermon for Easter Morning Sunrise A.D. 2016

John 20:1-18 and Psalm 118:15-29

Gaven M. Mize

A reading from St. John Chrysostom’s Paschal Homily, “O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.”

In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.  

The Psalm writer records for us this day, “This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.” What then is the gate? Where is this gate from which the righteous shall enter and do we have the hope? We certainly can say that we have been righteous and that by no means do we have the right to enter through the gate of the Lord. Why then have we gathered today? What did we come to hear and to see? If every footstep we take sinks us deeper into the grave, how can we ever walk through the gate of our Lord. The wages of sin is death and we admire our own ability to dig our own graves through that sin. What then shall we say for ourselves? What words can leave our lips that would be a the confession of a righteous man? St. John answers this for us as he echoes St. Paul, “O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns.” And so we join our voices to this same confession, “Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed.”

When Advent comes around we enjoy putting up our nativity images.  We place outside the church here the scene where Jesus, Mary, and Joseph confess to the community that we have reason to celebrate here at Augustana. And we make sure that the shepherds are just in the right place and the angels are flying overhead to proclaim that God has done the most marvelous thing; He has become man. And we love those angels. Because those angels are a symbol of hope and a promise not yet fulfilled, from God. And today we see those angels once more. This time they are not bringing the good news of great joy that Christ has been born into the flesh, but rather that He is the first born from the grave. There the angels sit, two of them, where Jesus is supposed to be.  The angels sit where Christ’s body once laid; where we should be laying.  But, there is no body here. There is no cute baby in a manger. There also, is no destroyed body that we cleaved by the cross.  There is simply no one there. Then those same Angels, sitting at what men thought would be the final resting place of Jesus, ask, “Why are you crying?” But, the one who would answer her next hangs our entire salvation, Christ, alive; death, crippled; Hell, overthrown.  “Who is it that you are looking for?” Christ asks.  Who, indeed?

What Mary heard next was the confirmation of all of it. The law and the prophets. The tree of death in the Garden of Eden has been replaced with the tree of life. Mary hears her name. And we, who fight so hard by our own sin against God, what do we hear? What can we expect for all of our hurting and begrudging against God and one another? We are not righteous to step foot toward the gate of the Lord. And we certainly should not be standing here looking at the Angels in the tomb that holds no blessed body. For this tomb is holy ground sanctified by the body of our Lord and our feet are filthy. But our Psalmist also reminds us that God has become our salvation. There we stand with nothing to offer God except for an empty tomb.  And that is the point. We have nothing to offer; but Christ has offered it all. The cross was filled with the body of our Lord, so that the tomb would be left clean. And the death that the tomb was mean to hold now holds nothing but the proclamation that the Lord has risen for you. Your feet are dirty and your hearts are full of sin, also the price has been paid. The righteousness of God has been placed upon you passively and the body that meant to hold nothing but death, now proclaims the same Easter proclamation as the angels. “He is not here; but He is in the font.”

Too often here in this area of the country we are asked, “If you died today where would you go and what would you say?” It is rather simple for us to answer. As washed and renewed Christians we simply point to the tomb and answer, “He is not here. He is risen. But through my baptism, I have been forever connected to the merits of my Lord Jesus Christ. I have died the death of Jesus, but I have also been united in His resurrection. So, for me, as I go to the Altar of the Lord and I call upon the name of the Lord, I will claim nothing except what has been given to me, the righteousness of God Himself. And the righteous shall enter through the gate of the Lord.”

St, John Chrysostom has perfectly pointed out to us all through the Lenten season that Christ is our advocate and our champion over the grave.  Even as we have been contemplative and repentant during our forty day journey our contemplation and repentance has held fast the promise kept by Christ that we have been forgiven. Dear Christians, know that you have been redeemed. You have been washed in the waters of Holy Baptism and have been given over to the grace of our Lord. May the words of St. John become our words on this Easter morning, “Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being raised from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages.” Amen.

In that name of + Jesus. Amen.

Father Mize serves Augustana Lutheran Church in Hickory, North Carolina.